We chose this cruise as a part of an educational package. Generally the trips have been excellent with this educational tour company so I did not hesitate to book with them on Avalon. This was a newer ship and I was happy to see what river cruising had to offer as compared to ocean cruising. As a comparison we have sailed Celebrity Aqua Class for two longer cruises in the past and have always bought the specialty Dining packages as well as Premium drinks package.
Overall I would say we had an enjoyable trip and the staff were friendly and the rooms comfortable. The ports of call were interesting (for the most part) and the tours were well run. The guides were able to add life to the locations.
One of the optional tours we booked had a long bus ride that was not included in the description of the trip so we had to skip this and loose our pre-paid fee. It would be nicer if this element of the excursion was provided in the description of the trip.
And now for the but part:
1. We were unhappy to have missed Melk because we were told it was too busy. As we sailed past, Avalon's sister ship was docked at Melk. This was unacceptable to me as I was really looking forward to this stop.
2: Food: When we pay $1000 per day we would like to be treated to great food. We would rate the food as good with some yummier options, but overall the food was repetitive and rather uninspired. The pork was offered on a regular basis and was consistently overcooked. The same can be said for the chicken and fish (except for the salmon on the last day). The been in the early part of the trip was good but the quality was poor during the second week.
It would be lovely to have some sushi options and more salad options.
Sparkling water bottles at the table would be much appreciated.
Dining times: Dinner started at 7 and one felt like they should leave by 9. There was no time or opportunity to linger over a port and dessert.
The entire dining timing felt like one was scripted and there was no flexibility. There were no snack options between meals that I would recommend and no fresh fruit available at all times of the day or night.
The dining layout did not provide any options for an intimate dinner and this was unfortunate on a two week trip.
Cruise Director: He was able to provide good information but went on too long and we stopped going. At the end we were asked to tip him 45 euro each.
Overall: I would not sail with this company again unless I read of some significant improvements in the dining experiences.